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Intersection of Life and Faith

How Does a Man Balance Work and Family?

  • 2001 6 Jun
  • COMMENTS
How Does a Man Balance Work and Family?

Work is important in men’s lives, but trouble erupts when work overshadows family life.

Men often struggle to find balance between the demands of work and home. Wives complain that husbands are more married to the office than to them. Men feel they are doing what they are supposed to do as men—provide for their families. The dilemma for many men is how to balance the needs of family life with career. Not attending to family needs has obvious consequences, but not attending to the job means not being a serious contender for promotion.

Charles was a mid-level manager working his way to an executive-level position. The vice president of the company firmly believed Charles was a rising star in the company.

All Charles needed to do was work hard and put in the long hours. There was only one problem.

Charles’ wife, Janet, resented his undying dedication to his job. At home with three small children, Janet wanted Charles to spend more time with the family. Tension between Janet and Charles was building. The couple needed help.

Charles and Janet represent many couples struggling to find balance between the demands of work and home. Wives complain that husbands are more married to the office than to them. Husbands feel they are doing what they are supposed to do as men—provide for their families. The dilemma for many men is how to balance the needs of family life with career. Not attending to family needs has obvious consequences, but not attending to the job means that you aren’t a serious contender for promotion.

Women who stay home sometimes envy the love affair men have with their work. Work can be exhilarating, exciting and even a frightening part of a man’s life. Work often defines a man and plays an important role in promoting his sense of self-worth.

Career success often means - “I’m somebody” to a great many men (and women). Men are taught that power, status and earning capacity are markers of masculinity. Value is measured by economic and occupational success.

Consequently, men have fears and anxieties about failure and measuring up. Are they good enough? Can they compete? Will they win? The pressure to perform can be intense and even self-imposed.

At home, performance is rated through relationship—a world of unclear rules and ever-changing demands. Women at home seem to have the edge when it comes to family rules and details about children and households. Control over outcome is not the same as at work.

Men like Charles aren’t up on the current issues of home. At times, Janet treats him like “a dummy” which makes the office more appealing. At work Charles feels competent - and in control.

Men like Charles need balance but don’t always know how to achieve it. Balance is a biblical concept dating back to the Garden of Eden. Man worked and then rested. Work should be challenging and fulfilling but not the sole focus of being a man. If you are a man out of balance with work and family, try these steps:

  • Learn to set limits on the job.
  • Address fears of failure or not measuring up to preconceived standards or unrealistic expectations.
  • Check out what the Bible has to say about your worth apart from what you do for a living.
  • Define yourself through your relationship with God. He gives unconditional love and approval of who you are.
  • Pray for wisdom and sensitivity to balance the needs of family and career.
  • Re-evaluate your current position. Is what you do worth the sacrifice you are making in other areas of your life? If not, ask God to direct your path to a new opportunity or negotiate more balance.

Dr. Mintle – author, professor, Approved Supervisor and Clinical Member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy – is a speaker and media personality, as well as a licensed clinical social worker with 20 years in psychotherapy practice.